This week, Twitter decided to fact-check President Donald Trump’s tweets. In response, President Trump is threatening to shut down Twitter and other social media companies – a move that many observers say runs counter to the First Amendment.
On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted:
Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can't let a more sophisticated version of that.... happen again.
On Tuesday, he also complained about this issue, tweeting, “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH.”
This comes after Twitter put a link to a fact-checking article below a string of tweets that the president made regarding mail-in ballots. The president’s tweet claimed that this type of election would be “substantially fraudulent.” Twitter posted a link where users could see statements that claimed the president was making false statements.
This move by Twitter came in response to observers who said the platform had a duty to prevent the president from spreading falsehoods using its services. They argue that President Trump routinely says things that have little or no basis in fact, and that Twitter is aiding this misinformation by letting him do it. After Twitter acted, however, President Trump and others are accusing it of liberal bias and trying to influence the 2020 election in favor of Democrats.
It is unclear what power the president has to shut down or regulate social media companies. Twitter is breaking no law by fact-checking users, and these companies are broadly protected by the Constitution from federal interference in speech on their platforms. In fact, some legal experts say that President Trump’s threats are imposing a “chilling effect” on speech by merely threatening government action.
Do you think that the federal government should regulate content on social media platforms like Twitter?